I AM THE DOOR
T. PIERCE BROWN
An extended study of the 200 or so names and titles by which the Lord Jesus is called is rewarding beyond our ability to express. One that has special appeal is the expression Jesus used in John 10:7, “I am the door of the sheep.” When He said in verse 11, “I am the good shepherd,” He was not changing the figure of speech as much as we might suppose, for the shepherd really became the door by placing himself in the entrance so that no sheep could go in or out except by Him. Let us notice some lessons and implications of His statements.
First, He did not say, “I am a door,” but “I am the door.” There is no other way one can have access to the Father, to salvation, to heaven. What are some other ways that persons have devised that makes them thieves and robbers? It seems evident that Jesus did not mean all that came before him in any way were thieves and robbers, but all that came before him claiming to be the door. The same is true for all that came after him.
There are many that will try to get in on the goodness and reputation of some ancestor or friend. Jesus emphasized in the parable of the virgins that none of us will have any oil to spare to help light the lamp of another. Others will try to make it on their own righteousness. The Bible is plain in stating that will not work. “Not according to the righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Others think they have found the door when they join some church. That is remarkable since those who started those churches, and those who preach for them admit that they have nothing to do with salvation! There are persons who will get angry for me for teaching that their church has nothing to do with salvation when their preacher teaches the same thing. Many preachers and theologians teach that there is no salvation out of Christ, but after listening for over 65 years I have yet to hear one tell what the Bible says one must do to get into Christ. If Christ is the door, how does one get into the door? Of course Romans 6:1-4 and Galatians3:26-28 tell us plainly, but I never remember hearing or reading it from any denominational preacher or theologian.
Note some things that are involved in Christ being the door. First, He is the means of access to the Father. One can have no fellowship with God except through Jesus. It is sad that even some who claim membership in the Lord’s church are now teaching that honest men who strive for truth may find God, no matter if they have never heard of Christ or have any belief in Him.
Not only is Christ the means of access to fellowship with the Father, He is the means of entrance into fellowship with other sheep of the fold. It is a wonderful truth that if I am in fellowship with God and you are in fellowship with God, we are in fellowship with each other, whether we even know about it or not. There are men who speak of thechurchofChristwith some disdain, making such statements as “There are many people who are in the churches of Christ which are not listed in the yellow pages.” They seem to mean that there are Christians in all denominations whatever they may be called, and wherever they may be found. Of course there are Christians who never heard of the yellow pages, and if they were asked to what church they belong, they might answer something besides “The Church of Christ.” I sometimes say, “The Lord’s church.” But there are no Christians who have not heard of the Lord Jesus Christ, believed in Him as the Son of God and been immersed by His authority into Him, where they received remission of sins and came into fellowship with all others who have done the same.
There are those connected with the Lord’s church that are sectarian in disposition. They think that those who have membership in “The Church of Christ Church” are in a better denomination than those who are in “The Baptist Church” or another denomination. There are those who assume that if a group does not wear the name “The Church of Christ” it cannot be thechurchofChrist. The denominational idea that one must attach a particular name to God’s people in order for them to be the church of the Lord is sad. However, it gives no one the right to teach that thechurchofChristis a big sick denomination (or any other kind), or that salvation is found outside Christ.
To try to make the point clearer, in case it is necessary, one might drop into an African village and find a group of people who called themselves “The believers” or any other name. If they had really obeyed the gospel of Christ, they would be members of the Lord’s church (thechurchofChrist) and would not be members of any man-made denomination. What makes a person a member of some denomination is that they hear that doctrine, believe that doctrine and obey that doctrine. When a person hears the doctrine of Christ, believes that doctrine and obeys that doctrine, he becomes a member of thechurchofChrist. As he grows in the grace and knowledge of Christ, he will recognize that every saved person is a member of thechurchofChrist, but will never raise the question, “Is he in the yellow pages?” As he matures, he will know that the name of the church is not “The Church of Christ,” that his preacher (if he has one) is not necessarily his pastor, that the Lord’s supper is not “The Sacrament,” and many other things. He does not have to know all of those things to be a Christian. He does have to know and obey Christ as Lord.
The third thing involved in Christ being the door is that he is the doorway of admission to Divine pasture and provision. The human soul cries out for truth and certainty about where we came from, for what purpose we are here, and hope about where we are going. All the world’s wisest philosophers have probed into these questions and have arrived at many tentative guesses. Only in Christ do we find answers that are sensible and that can be comprehended, apprehended, appropriated and used.
It is interesting that the human soul not only cries out for truth (though it may reject it when it is found), it cries out for justification. Have you noticed that even the most ungodly and repressive dictators in the world seek to justify their actions? “It is right for us to invade this little defenseless country because — .” There is something in the nature of man, placed there by our Father, that needs and seeks justification. Only in Christ can one stand in a position of justification.
There are many other things too many to mention in this article that are included in the Divine pasture and provision. Christ is the doorway to all of them. We see a hint of this reality in such passages as Ephesians 1:3, “Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
He is the doorway of admission to Divine security. It is sad that we have allowed others in the religious world to take the Biblical doctrine of the security of the believer and pervert it so that in our efforts to teach the truth about it we have almost taught that there is no security for the believer. Some of us have made it sound as if God were just waiting in the wings, so to speak, to catch us in some mistake so He can send us to hell. I have had precious persons say to me something like this, “I do not think I will be lost because of sins of commission, for I have not stolen, committed adultery, etc., but I fear that I will be lost because of sins of omission, for I may have left undone something that I should have done.” There are several things wrong with the implications of that sort of statement. Let us notice only one. The idea that “I may have left undone something I should have done” reveals two or three things that show a lack of understanding of Bible truth and reality. It is not a question of “I may have.” You have!
If our salvation depended on us having done all that we should have done, no person on earth could be saved. As we strive to discover what those things are and repent of them, we are secure in Christ. Many have not yet grasped the great truth of 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” He did not say, “It keeps from sin.” We have security in Christ even if we sin, for if we are walking in the light, we are constantly penitent for any sin of omission or commission and the blood keeps on cleansing us, even of sins done in ignorance.
The door is open. It is not locked and guarded as by one who would enslave us. It is a door that allows us great freedom. We can go in an out and find pasture. It is another tragedy that there are those who would bind upon us their little rules and regulations which God has not bound. On the other hand, there are those who boast of the freedom we have in Christ and make that freedom a license to disregard God’s requirements. Since the days of Adam and Eve, Satan has been able to pervert the desire for freedom that God gave to each of us into a disregard of God’s laws. One great paradox is that men are truly free only when they are subject to and obey the laws of God. Man can be free from the law of gravity in outer space, only by obeying the law of gravity and the laws of aerodynamics to which he is subject on this earth. It is a very precious thing to me that as a Christian I am free to believe and operate my life in terms of any truth that God has revealed to me through Christ. When Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth shall make you free” (John8:32), He included the truth that I do not have to look in the writings of any uninspired man to get my authority to believe or act. This does not mean I should be arrogant enough to assume that the reasoning of great men of faith who have gone before lacks value. It may help me to correct my viewpoint and see truth more clearly. It does mean that their conclusion is not my authority, and I am not to be bound by any human reasoning except to the extent that the reasoning helps me to see and accept the truth as God revealed it.
Let us summarize some things suggested by the fact that Christ is the door. It shows exclusiveness. He is the door and the only door to the blessings, protection, provisions, liberty that we have mentioned. It also suggests inclusiveness. He says, “If any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). It is a matter of “Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation22:17). One must choose to enter on the terms by which this freedom is offered. He is not dragged in by the grace of God operating in an arbitrary fashion. He is offered the water of life freely, but he must take it according to God’s law.
Praise God for the fact that the door is wide open! We do not need to make another door around at the side to try to let in those who refuse to come through the door God provided. Nor do we need to try to close it a little so it will keep out those who do not meet our standards of acceptability. Let us continue to invite people to come through the door on Christ’s terms.